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Guanacaste, Costa Rica by Joseph Emanuelli

Real information and stories from Guanacaste , Costa Rica. Presneted by a long time expat living and working in Costa Rica
Bank Fraud in Costa Rica

            I am going to tell you about a personal thing that happened to me.

Over the past few years you may have read about how the Costa Rica bank system was real loosey goosey and you had to be real careful as there were reports of people within the banks actually steeling peoples’ money right out of their accounts. Well over the past few years and some really bad press about it, the banking system really got strong and there are a lot of tight controls, even if you want to take money out of your own account.

So Last Month my wife was traveling in Brazil, she needed to get some cash out of a ATM. Now she is a smart person and is well aware of the scams and reports of thieves placing card readers into a ATM to gather a person’s information off of their credit or debit cars. So she made sure that she went to a well-known international bank (which I will Not name here) and to use a ATM machine inside the bank branch, thinking that this is going to be the safest place. Right? That’s what I would have thought as well, as you can never be too safe.

So she gets the cash she needed and off she went. About three weeks later we were in Peru on a vacation and got a mail from the security department Banco Nacional asking us if we had made any purchases in Peru and Brazil and listed the amounts charged to the card. We replied with a yes and thought “Wow pretty cool they are watching our backs” we also notified them in the same email, that we were presently in Peru and retuning to Costa Rica in a week. We got a reply back saying thank you.

When we returned to Costa Rica, Pam needed to get some cash out of the account and tried to use the ATM. It stated that funds were unavailable. The same day we get an email from the bank saying we are over drawn on our account by $20.00. We both looked at each other with complete shock and thought, how could that be? So Pam headed to the bank to see what was going on.

It turns out that a thief did in fact gain access to our account and cleaned it totally out and even over drew the account. So she sat down with the bank manager who pulled a report of the withdrawals and we were able to see that this actually happened in Brazil one week after Pam had already left. The crazy thing about it was that the thief went to the exact ATM that Pam used and just kept taking money every day till the account was empty. So we filed a report with the banks security department, showing proof that neither Pam nor I were in Brazil at the time of the transaction, by showing our passports as proof because of the stamps in them. So the security department of Banco Nacional contacted the bank in Brazil to check their cameras to correspond with the time of the transactions and the day. Our Local Branch manager said that once the report is filed through the security department we would have to wait 45 days for a determination to see if we would get our money back. Two days after filing the repost we were informed that, sure enough, it was the same person that came and took the money every day as he was filmed at the bank by their security cameras. Our Branch manager let us know that since there was even more proof that it was not us, things would move along a lot faster.

I am happy to write that just this week we received another email stating that our money was re-deposited into our account and we needed to come and get new cards as the account is now frozen to protect us further. The best part is that we did not even have to wait the full time period and the money was automatically deposited into our acoount.

 Here is a link to a good article that explains this and many other scams at ATM machines. http://money.howstuffworks.com/personal-finance/banking/common-atm-scams.htm

So when you are traveling to Costa Rica or anywhere, even in your own back yard so be careful as there are scammers everywhere trying to take advantage of you.

I am happy to write that the banking systems here have tightened their controls and protection. Now the bank require that you let them know when you are leaving country, what day and where you will be so they can make notations on your account o better watch any strange activity on your account. Check with your bank to see if they do this. It is well worth the effort up front then going thru the process after the fact.

As always, thanks to my steady followers for stopping by my blog. I hope you enjoy some of my rants, craziness and even some good information, if you want to make a comment just send me an email to jaaechef@gmail.com , my personal email address or post it here. If you have an interest in or are just curious about Costa Rica and want to learn more about Costa Rica or are just curious what it is really about and why so many people are talking about it, click this link to my new web page and blog site   http://costarica-connection.com

Thanks and I look forward to hearing from you. Pura Vida!!

Posted: Saturday, July 13, 2013 1:30 PM by Joseph A. Emanuelli

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